Coach Dwane Casey’s fate undecided as Raptors head into turbulent offseason


Change is coming to Toronto. A lot of change.

If you recall, going into the 2013-14 season the Raptors were a franchise and a roster GM Masai Ujiri was looking to reshape from top to bottom. Then he traded Rudy Gay to Sacramento and the Raptors took off and won the Atlantic Division behind Kyle Lowry’s brilliance. Rebuilding through the draft was on hold, the timetable got moved up. This past season (2014-15) the Raptors won the Atlantic Division again, but a sweep at the hands of the Wizards in the first round showed just how far this roster and franchise still needs to go.

Meaning there will be plenty of roster change this summer.

Will that start with coach Dwane Casey? The coach with a reputation for defense couldn’t get this team out of the bottom 10 on that end of the floor (23rd, allowing 104.8 points per 100 possessions). He’s a coach Ujiri inherited from the previous GM, but one Ujiri gave an extension to. Will Casey be back next season?

Ujiri said he didn’t even know. From Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.

Well, that’s vague. But it sounds like he’s leaning toward keeping Casey. Which is what Marc Stein of ESPN said he had heard.

Initial indications, though, suggest that Casey will indeed be back next season, according to the latest whispers on the Toronto grapevine….

The Raptors, for all their undeniable financial resources, also happen to be investing in a new practice facility, as well as their own D-League franchise, and presumably would not love the idea of absorbing the remaining money on the coach’s contract if there was a sudden clamor to make a change.

Expect to see a lot of roster turnover in Toronto.

If they are going to play Lowry and DeMar DeRozan together — especially with Jonas Valanciunas — then they need some rim protection at the four, plus a good “3&D” guy for the wing. They need depth. I doubt anyone on that roster is safe if the right deal comes along.

With that new roster, Casey will start the season with his seat already a little warm.

Wizards blow out Raptors to complete first-round sweep


This is the end of the Raptors as we know them. The two seasons of accidental playoff contention were probably unsustainable regardless, but after Sunday’s 125-94 blowout win by the Wizards, which sent the Raptors home early, it’s clear that big changes are coming.

The Raptors were thoroughly outclassed in every facet of the game. On a day when they were fighting for their playoff lives, the Raptors came out lifeless, falling behind right away and never digging themselves out of the hole.

The Wizards more than doubled the Raptors’ success from the three-point line, shooting 57.7 percent from long range to Toronto’s 28 percent. Kyle Lowry picked up three fouls in the first quarter, taking him mostly out of the final game of a series where he’s been ineffective.

John Wall was spectacular again, just as he’s been this entire series. But Otto Porter has been a revelation for the Wizards in the first round. He had 7 points and 7 rebounds off the bench in Game 4, and has had  bigger-than-expected impact defensively.

The Wizards will go on to face (probably) the Hawks in the second round. The Raptors? Who knows? Seven of their players are free agents, and it’s tough to imagine most of them coming back. Dwane Casey will most likely be out of a job. Masai Ujiri wanted to tear this team down last year, until an out-of-nowhere playoff run postponed the rebuild. Now, it’s inevitable.

The Truth (and Marcin Gortat) will set Washington free, up 3-0 on Toronto after win


When the game was hanging in the balance, Paul Pierce hit back-to-back three pointers, then ran around the phone booth — what is officially the Verizon Center in our nation’s capital — high fiving the fans and yelling, “That’s why I am here.”

For more than three quarters, it was Marcin Gortat (24 points, 13 rebounds) and the John Wall focused Wizards making enough plays to keep the Raptors just in the rear view mirror. But in the end it was a pair of Otto Porter threes followed by a pair of Pierce threes — “That’s why I am here” — that lifted the Wizards past the Raptors 106-99.

Washington is now up 3-0 in the series and can close it out Sunday at home. No team in NBA history has come from 3-0 down to win a series. And this is the first time in Wizards’ franchise history they have been up 3-0 in a series.

Once again, the Raptors were the aggressor early, with DeMar DeRozan putting up 20 points in the first quarter and Toronto going up by 10.

And once again the Raptors defense could not hold that lead. The Wizards battled back to lead in the second quarter then held on until the fourth quarter based on a lot of Gortat and John Wall (who had 19 points on 5-of15).

The Raptors would not go quietly, and behind 32 from DeRozan and 15 from Kyle Lowry on the night they battled back to take the lead. That said, those two combined for 51 of the Raptors 99 shots on the night, and for the Wizards they will live with those two taking more than half the Raptors’ shots.

But in the end it was consecutive threes from Otto Porter followed by consecutive threes from Pierce that proved to be too much. Pierce had 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter.

The Wizards had impressive stretches behind their quality defense during the regular season, but they could not sustain it, mostly because their conventional offense was defendable. It was two bigs inside and a lot of Wall. In the playoffs, Randy Whittman has finally started to play Porter and Pierce together, with Pierce as the four, and that has given the Wizards great spacing and shooting. Toronto has had no answer.

Come Sunday, Raptors fans will gather in Jurrasic Park in Toronto, and one of the best fan bases in the NBA will cheer on their team.

But it likely will be for the final time this season.

The Wizards are moving on. That’s the Truth.

PBT Extra: Wizards’ backcourt owning matchup with Toronto

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John Wall and Bradley Beal make up one of the best backcourts in the NBA.

Even if they don’t always play like it. Or get used in some odd ways at times by Randy Whittman.

Those two have stepped up and owned the backcourt battle in the first round of the NBA playoffs, outplaying Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. That’s not the only reason the Wizards are up 2-0 having won both games in Toronto, but it’s part of it.

Jenna Corrado asks if the Raptors guards can turn it around in this latest PBT Extra. The problem is the Raptors’ guards are not much defensively, much like he entire Raptors’ roster. And that is what has them in real trouble against the Wizards.

Kyle Lowry leaves with leg injury late in Raptors’ Game 2 loss to Wizards (VIDEO)

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Kyle Lowry suffered a shin contusion after colliding with Paul Pierce with six minutes remaining in Toronto’s Game 2 loss to the Wizards on Tuesday.

The game had already been decided; the Raptors were trailing by 15 points at the time, and Lowry had been largely ineffective, finishing with just six points on 3-of-10 shooting to go along with four assists in 27 minutes of action. But he left the game and did not return, which has his status for Game 3 at least a little bit in doubt.

From Brian Windhorst of

The Raptors said Lowry will be re-evaluated Wednesday and it’s possible he could get some tests to determine whether there is any damage.

“It’s a little left knee, left shin contusion,” Lowry said. “But I’ll be OK.” …

“He’s trying to get back from the time that he’s had off from his back, when you’re trying to get back into the groove and he struggles,” coach Dwane Casey said. “I know Kyle; he isn’t going to say “it’s my back,” but that’s the difference.”

Toronto’s problem on this night was on the defensive end of the floor, where Bradley Beal and John Wall combined for 54 points and 19 assists during a game where Washington built a lead of as many as 23 points.

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It didn’t look too bad, and Lowry may ultimately be fine with a couple of days rest. But the Raptors need his mobility and playmaking on the floor if they’re going to begin to climb back into this series.

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